Life Healthcare is investigating how a corpse was allegedly removed from St Dominic’s Hospital in East London and taken to a funeral parlour without the dead man’s family knowing.
The Malgas family, of Highgate in the city, is also demanding answers on how Lulamile Ezra Malgas could be classified as a coloured person when he was black.
Malgas’s brother-in-law, Lonwabo Yiliwe, put it bluntly: “He walked into St Dominic’s alive and the next day they lost his corpse.”
He said Malgas went to the hospital during the day on Saturday complaining of body pains.
“The family was communicating with him until he was admitted. The next morning [Sunday], we received a call at 7.15am to say he had died. Less than an hour later we were told the hospital could not find his corpse. Later we were told it had been taken to a funeral parlour,” Yiliwe said.
Malgas’s wife, Margaret, said the family was incensed by what happened on Saturday.
“On the same day that he was admitted, a nurse called me to say he was taken to the ICU. But later she called to say he was in St Joseph’s ward. The next thing we heard was that he had died,” she said.
When the family went to the hospital after being alerted to his death on Sunday morning, they said no-one could tell them where the corpse was. Eventually they were told it had been removed by Mandrin Funeral Parlour, based in Buffalo Flats, they said.
“Who released his body to this company? They call us at 7am and the next hour the body has been removed. I am so disappointed by what this hospital has done. We are mourning and they do this?” Margaret said.
Yiliwe said when the family arrived, Malgas was already in a coffin.
“The coffin’s lid was not even closing properly and they were ready to move him. I asked them who gave them the corpse, at whose authorisation. They would not answer.”
Life Healthcare’s regional manager executive for the Border-Kei region, Bruce Janssens, said the group was aware of the complaint and an internal investigation had been launched.
“The findings of the investigation will be discussed directly with the family. We are therefore not in a position to comment on the details at this time,” said Janssens.
Dion Blignaut, of Mandrin Funeral Parlour, also declined to comment.
“We have no comment on this matter, as you should contact St Dominic’s Hospital regarding … the late Mr Malgas,” said Blignaut.